The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Alumni Association and Foundation (USAAF) has created its own independent task force to address instances of sexual harassment and assault on campus at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy as well as at sea during Sea Year.
The task force comes after USMMA suspended Sea Year for Midshipmen last June as part of a wider effort to combat sexual harassment and sexual assault at the federally-funded United States service academy.
The Task Force is comprised of representatives from the maritime industry and different maritime academies and will engage with key stakeholders, including alumni, parents, current midshipmen and representatives of the maritime industry, to develop a coordinated response to address sexual misconduct at King’s Point. The group will also examine measures put in place by the Academy to combat sexual misconduct, namely the Sea Year suspension.
On Tuesday, the USAAF said the Task Force has hired an independent third party expert to conduct a comprehensive assessment of sexual misconduct at the Academy. The company to carry out the assessment, called Self Solutions, specializes in investigating behaviors and culture aboard ships and at academies, and has developed programs that have helped college and university officials predict and prevent sexual assault.
Their study will look to investigate the best practices that can immediately impact sexual misconduct prevention and response at USMMA; better implementation of existing strategies to eliminate sexual misconduct at USMMA; the effectiveness of the suspension of Sea Year core curricula as a means of eliminating sexual misconduct at USMMA; and increasing the transparency of the Academy’s efforts and rationale for implementing specific sexual misconduct policies.
The Task Force and hiring of the Self Solutions comes in addition to the contractor recently hired by the U.S. Department of Transportation to carry out the assessment in order to address the root causes of sexual assault and harassment and other inappropriate behaviors at the Academy.
Self Solutions is expected to immediately begin the process of conducting its investigation and will release its report in its entirety upon completion.
“We stand ready to support the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in developing a facts-based plan for eliminating sexual misconduct and ensuring that current and future midshipmen are effectively trained in a safe environment,” said Captain Eileen Roberson, USNR (Ret.), who has been appointed to Chairman of the task force. “Self Solutions is the right company for the job given their extensive experience analyzing behaviors on ships and academy campuses,” she added.